Homemade plantain salve is easy to make, inexpensive and effective. Plantain is arguably one of the most powerfully medicinal weeds growing in your yard. It is one of the most valuable elements in the medicine cabinet. 

Michigan Medicine says, “The leaves of plantain are primarily used as medicine. The seeds of plantain can also be used medicinally, having mild laxative effects similar to the seeds of psyllium, a close relative of plantain.” 

Electronic Physician, a peer reviewed journal, says, “Plantago major contains several active compounds such as flavonoids, polysaccharides, terpenoids, lipids, iridoid glycosides and caffeic acid derivatives.”

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It is common knowledge among herbalists that broadleaf plantain is higher in medicinal properties than narrow leaf plantain, also known as ribwort. Broadleaf plantain is best used for salve.

Plantain salve is often applied to bites, burns, peeling dry lips, abrasions, dermatitis, wounds, skin that won’t heal, zits, eczema, burns, diaper rash, post surgery or stitches, and even hemorrhoids. Plantain tea is commonly used for bronchitis, coughs, and UTIs (urinary tract infections).

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Even Shakespeare used plantain in his famous production of Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, scene 2, where Romeo’s cousin Benvolio suggests Romeo find another love, to fill the space of Juliet, even an infection to the eye would be fitting. Romeo’s answer was an herbal remedy saying, “Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.”

Healing properties of plantain salve are abundant. Most folks use plantain salve the same way you would use Neosporin. It is commonly known for being astringent, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Plantain is famously known for carrying:

Iridoids – which are known for being soothing and anti-inflammatory. Current Medicinal Chemistry says, “Iridoids exhibit promising anti-inflammatory activity which may be beneficial in the treatment of inflammation. Iridoids are secondary metabolites present in various plants.”

Aglycone, ursolic acid (UA), oleanolic acid (OA) and aucubigenin – which are powerful anti-microbials. UA and OA are commonly used in cancer treatment. Pharmacognosy Magazine found, “P. major is one of the herbs widely used in cancer and pain relief management. Anticancer activity of UA and OA has been actively investigated in recent years. Moreover, these two compounds along with aucubin have been known as anti-inflammatory agents.”

Allantoin – which is known for regenerating cells. The Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research says, “Allantoin is a pharmacologically active compound. Allantoin is active in skin-soothing and rapid regeneration of skin cells. It removes corneocytes by loosening the intercellular kit or the desmosomes (protein bridges) that maintain the adhesion of corneocytes to each other. It then exfoliates dry and damaged cells and boosts the radiant appearance of the skin, whose surface becomes smoother and softer.”

Often plantain is used for herbal extraction. This means if you get stung by a bee, hornet or wasp, apply some plantain or plantain salve and it supports the body in pulling out the stinger. It can be used for anything needing extraction properties including a splinter, road rash, embedded tick heads, and more. 

To make plantain salve, harvest fresh growing plantain, taking extra care that has not been sprayed by pesticides or is in an area where household pets could be using the bathroom. Place leaves on a cookie sheet and place in an oven on the lowest temperature to dry. Water in or on the plantain could cause spoilage of the salve. Picking leaves on a dry sunny day can be all that is needed, if it’s been dry for the preceding few days. Dried leaves can also be used.

Chop the plantain up into small bits, just like you would for making sauerkraut, the smaller the better, or pulverize in a food processor. Pack into a mason jar and cover in olive oil. This quantity makes a very strong salve. Many herbalists use 1/4 cup dried plantain per cup of oil.

Be sure all the plantain is submerged under the oil or it can mold.

There are many options to extract the medicinal properties from the plantain into the oil. Choose the one that fits you best:

1) Put a lid on the salve and set it in a windowsill covered by a brown paper bag. Let sit for four weeks. 

2) Put a lid on the salve and place the jars in a crock pot with the bottom of the crock pot lined with a towel (the jars may break if sitting on the bottom of the crock pot). Fill with warm water until the jars are covered to the top of the oil, but not submerged. Set it on the lowest heat, usually the “keep warm” setting. Let sit for 8 to 10 hours without a lid.

3) Put a lid on the salve and place the jars in an Instant Pot following directions listed in the second option, using the “yogurt” setting.

4) Put a lid on the salve and place in the oven on the lowest setting, usually 170 degrees, for 4 to 6 hours.


Once one of those options is completed:

Strain the oil through a stainless steel fine mesh or cheesecloth overlapped three times. Straining into a measuring cup will help guide you for the quantities of the remaining ingredients. 

Melt 2 to 3 tablespoons of beeswax in a double boiler. A double boiler is where you place a pot filled with water on the stove and set another smaller pot on top of the water filled pot. Heat this water up so the water in the bottom pot gently heats the smaller top pot. The more beeswax used, the firmer the salve.

Add 1.5 cups infused oil, and 2 to 3 tablespoons grated beeswax or beeswax beads, to a double boiler to melt the beeswax. Add one teaspoon vitamin E and one teaspoon tea tree oil. Fill jars with salve and put the lid on immediately so it seals down a bit.

The pot should be wiped out with a paper towel immediately, otherwise the beeswax is very difficult to clean.

Plantain salve makes a great gift, the uses are endless. 

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, CGP, D.PSc. who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. She is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor, through The American Naturopathic Medical Association and works as a Certified GAPS Practitioner who sees clients in her office, Skype and phone. She has been published in Wise Traditions, spoken at two Weston A. Price Conferences, Certified GAPS Practitioner Trainings, has been on many radio shows, television shows and writes for Nourishing Plot. She serves on the GAPS Board of Directors and has recently been named “The GAPS Expert” by Dr. Natasha and will serve teaching other Certified GAPS Practitioners proper use of the GAPS protocol. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia, through food, she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. She is a Chapter Leader for The Weston A. Price Foundation. [email protected]

“GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The right of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Patent and Designs Act 1988.



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